Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module ANTH2197: Reading Ethnography

Department: Anthropology

ANTH2197: Reading Ethnography

Type Tied Level 2 Credits 10 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham
Tied to L601
Tied to L602
Tied to B991
Tied to LL36
Tied to CFG0
Tied to LMV0
Tied to LA01


  • Peoples and Cultures (ANTH1061) OR Being Human (ANTH1111)


  • Research Project Design (ANTH2187).

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • Biology, Culture and Society (ANTH2207).


  • To explore the practical, epistemic and methodological aspects of ethnography as the distinctive method of socio-cultural anthropology.
  • To understand the workings of ethnographic writing and ethnographic argument through detailed engagement with book-length monographs.
  • To enable students to develop the specific critical and theoretical skills required to unpack others' (and construct their own) ethnographic accounts


  • Ethnographic methods and their relationship to theory: how ethnographic writing uses and generates new concepts through sustained engagements with specific social contexts.
  • A cross-cutting comparative focus on ethnographic writing, highlighting similarities and differences in relation to: narrative structure and approach; authorial voice; the politics and poetics of representation.
  • Topics will be tailored to themes arising in the chosen monographs, which may include: the relationship of explanatory theories to ethnographic research: learning and interpreting everyday life; non-participant observation; film and visual anthropology; participation, power and collaborative ethnography; reflexivity in ethnographic research; ethical issues in ethnographic research; and writing ethnography
  • Close reading and discussion of ethnographic texts: One of the most distinctive aspects of anthropology as a discipline is the way in which theoretical arguments are articulated through detailed, in-depth ethnographic accounts of particular places.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Have an advanced knowledge of some key ethnographic texts in recent anthropology.
  • Have an advanced knowledge of key theoretical issues and debates relating to anthropological enquiry.
  • Understand and critically evaluate the relevance of ethnography as a mode of anthropological research.
  • Ability to apply theoretical insights to ethnographic texts and contexts.
  • An appreciation of how ethnographies have changed over time.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to read and critically evaluate book-length ethnographic arguments.
  • Competency to conduct in-depth and theoretically informed analysis of a particular issue in relation to detailed ethnographic material.
  • Engage anthropological arguments in relation to ethnographic methodology, ethics and epistemology.
Key Skills:
  • Prepare and present scholarly work for seminars and assessment.
  • Independent and critical reading of ethnographies.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module is topped and tailed by 2 lectures. The first introductory session sets out the general intellectual context of the module, introduces reading strategies and highlights key themes and questions that intersect across the different ethnographic readings. The final lecture draws out key points from these.
  • Lectures will focus on an ethnographic monograph, and will help to frame small-group, student-led discussions about the text in the corresponding seminars.
  • Seminars will help students to develop a deeper understanding of the production and presentation of ethnographic knowledge, and its relationship to anthropological theory, via close readings of ethnographic texts and critical discussion in small group settings.
  • Seminars will integrate lecture, tutorial and presentations, with the balance dictated by appropriateness to the book in question.
  • For each text, students will write up a mini critique to prepare for seminar discussions and presentations.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8 Michaelmas term 1 hour 8
Seminars 5 Michaelmas term 1 hour 5
Preparation and Reading 89
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2500 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Reading log: 200-250 words per ethnography.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University